Tadten / Neusiedlersee / Austria
Erich Sattler is emblematic of the new generation of Austrian vintners: a wine-school grad and the 4th generation in the family to take over his family’s estate, in 1999. “We make wine as my grandfather did,” he says, “only with better machines.” Located in and around the village of Tadten, Sattler’s vineyards are on the east side of Lake Neusiedl, which moderates the warm air from the easterly Pannonian plain’s continental influence. The soil here is composed mainly of gravel, part of a 5 kilometer wide gravel bed left behind when the Danube river dried up 2 million years ago. Sattler’s st. laurent and zweigelt vines, some of which are 40+ years old, are well suited to gravel soils for the production of wines with ‘ripe, soft tannin,’ Erich’s primary goal. Sattler practices certified minimal-impact vineyard management, does not irrigate his 22 hectares, green harvests to reduce yields to a mere 5 to 7 bunches per vine, and harvests by hand.
In order to produce dense, balanced wines with silky tannins, in his ‘classic’ wines Sattler de-stems, ferments in stainless steel, with elevage on the lees for 6 months in stainless and large oak casks. For the reserve wines, fermentation occurs in 2000 liter open top vats, punch downs are done manually, and then wines are matured for 12 months in Allier oak barrels for the St. Laurent Reserve, and new barrels for the Zweigelt Reserve. Erich never uses any technical concentration methods like reverse osmosis, or any additives before or after fermentation. Sattler succeeds in his objective of producing “variety-typical, dense and smooth wines with harmoniously integrated tannins, lovely fruit and pleasant acidity.”